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Web letter by Alicia Suarez: Here’s the rest of the story on the midwife debate

I thank The Journal Gazette for its coverage of the Senate discussion regarding House Bill 1135 (“Midwifery legalization bill prompts Senate feud,” March 28). I would like to address several inaccuracies in the article.

The statistic cited by the opponents of a two- to threefold increase in infant mortality is based on a flawed meta analysis that was heavily critiqued by many scholars, including myself, during the hearing. The opposition mentions this repeatedly despite the research having been thoroughly debunked.

Furthermore, there is a great deal of data outlining the safety of low-risk home births, although this was not mentioned in the article despite my entire testimony about these data. Midwifery care and home birth with skilled midwives is supported by the World Health Organization and the American Public Health Association.

Second, Indiana’s dismal mortality rate is more indicative of the care 98 percent to 99 percent of women receive in hospitals (among other things) and can hardly be attributed to the 1 percent to 1.5 percent of home births occurring in the state.

Third, the North American Registry of Midwives is the accrediting body that oversees the certification process for earning the Certified Professional Midwife credential, which midwives may earn through extensive educational requirements and skills testing. The CPM is recognized as a legal, competent midwife in 27 states (the article erroneously reported that 27 states were considering similar legislation). In other words, CPMs in Indiana could practice legally in 27 other states. Thus Sen. Ryan Mishler’s confusion lies in his lack of understanding that the CPM has nothing to do with state laws. Midwives may earn this degree regardless of state law. Currently, 12 Indiana midwives have chosen to earn this credential, which reflects their commitment to professional midwifery standards despite the state’s not recognizing this credential.

As a doctoral scholar who studies midwifery, I hope that The Journal Gazette and Hoosiers recognize that this is largely a professional turf war that was started in the 19th century by the American Medical Association and is based on ideology, not evidence-based research. Indiana women deserve to have competent, legal midwives attend them if they choose to give birth at home.


Assistant professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

DePauw University